Dems Eye Criminal Charges For Subpoenaed GOP Lawmakers

By Eliana Regev | Wednesday, 18 May 2022 16:45
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The congressional panel examining last year’s attack on the U.S. Capitol is leaving open all enforcement options — including criminal contempt — for subpoenaed GOP lawmakers who decline to collaborate with the Committee.

The Select Committee has already held two former Trump Administration officials in criminal contempt — former adviser Stephen Bannon and former chief of staff Mark Meadows — for ignoring the panel’s formal subpoena to testify.

One day after the Committee issued similar subpoenas to five sitting House Republicans, including Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), top members of the investigative panel said those lawmakers would enjoy no special immunities just because they currently serve on Capitol Hill.

“Members of Congress are citizens of the United States, so it would be the same options that are available to us generally,” Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), a former professor of constitutional law, said Friday when questioned about the potential repercussions of noncompliance.

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Raskin quickly put them to rest if there were any questions about whether criminal contempt is among those options. He said, sitting lawmakers could meet even greater punishments than other recalcitrant witnesses, given that House members are also subject to chamber ethics rules.

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“We have all of the options that would be available to us, or someone like Steve Bannon or Mark Meadows,” he said, “and then additional options because they’re members of Congress.”

Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), the Select Committee chairman, said he’s hoping that the subpoenaed Republicans will change their minds and cooperate in the probe. However, repeating Raskin, he said the panel isn’t ruling out any enforcement tools if they refuse.

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“There are options. Obviously, we could make a referral to Ethics,” Thompson said, referring to the House Ethics Committee. “We’ll discuss it. But look, all we’re saying is these are members of Congress who’ve taken an oath.”

Thompson, along with Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), the Select Committee’s vice chair, announced the subpoenas on Thursday following weeks of internal discussions over the wisdom of targeting sitting members of Congress so aggressively. The move was an unprecedented step, marking an extraordinary escalation in the wide-ranging probe into the Capitol attack of January 6, 2021, when a violent mob stormed the building in a failed attempt to overturn President Biden’s election victory.

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The subpoenas target five GOP lawmakers: Reps. McCarthy, Jim Jordan (Ohio), Scott Perry (Pa.), Andy Biggs (Ariz.), and Mo Brooks (Ala.). All of them are close allies of former President Trump who have advocated the claim that Trump won the 2020 election. They also have unusual insights into the former White House’s effort to thwart Congress’s certification of Biden’s victory. And they’ve all refused to cooperate in the investigation voluntarily.

“There are some things that we found out that either need clarification on their part, or we’re left with … what our investigation has shown us,” Thompson said. “They are an integral part of that investigation, as far as I’m concerned.”

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